UMG Donates 200,000 Songs to Library of Congress; Gurf Morlix Covers Blaze Foley; Country Music Sales Down In 2010

Brody Vercher | January 11th, 2011

  • Universal Music Group is donating some 200,000 vintage master recordings to the Library of Congress for preservation and digitizing, the majority of which is out of print. UMG is holding on to the copyrights though, which will still allow the company to commercially release the best stuff once it’s cleaned up and sorted through.

    “Hopefully,” Hansen said, “this [donation] means there will be a chance somewhere down the road for people to hear not only Bing Crosby’s hits but all the [Universal-owned] country stuff like Milton Brown, Ernest Tubb and Webb Pierce.”

  • For his latest album, Gurf Morlix chose to pay tribute to his old pal Blaze Foley with 15 covers of the late songwriter’s songs. The album, Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream, will be released Feb. 1, which coincides with the anniversary of Foley’s death. Here’s video of Morlix performing the album’s closing track, “Cold Cold World.”
  • In the spirit of cover songs, check out Twang Nation’s YouTube playlist of some of the best Townes Van Zandt covers. And then visit Texas Music Matters for audio of “Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold” from the man himself at a 1992 Cactus Cafe show.
  • New releases for the week of January 11, 2011 include:

  • Craig Havighurst dubs 18 South his favorite new/unsigned/indie Nashville band of 2010. The supergroup — consisting of Jon Randall, Jessi Alexander, Guthrie Trapp, Jimmi Wallace, Mike Bub, and Larry Atamanuik — has plans to release its debut album this year, but until then check out some their stuff on MySpace.
  • Also from Craig Havighurst is this nice profile on Shawn Camp and his recently unshelved album 1994. Click through to listen to three of the songs.

    “I didn’t move to town to be on that chart with the people I was on the chart with, honestly. I wanted to be on the chart with George Jones and Roger Miller and Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash,” Camp says. “If I was going to be the singer in the band or be playing songs in a country band, I wanted it to be old-school country as much as I could.”

  • Here’s Ashton Shepherd‘s new video for the song “Look It Up.”
  • The Kansas City Star‘s Timothy Finn on Easton Corbin‘s Saturday night show:

    He filled the rest of his set with several covers, all of which blended seamlessly with his own material. Two were songs made famous by Alan Jackson: “It Must Be Love” and “Where I Come From.” One was Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues.” Another was Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Happen Twice.” Except for the Haggard tune, if you didn’t know they already belonged to others, you might think they were all Corbin’s songs.

  • Justin Townes Earle impressed with his performance of “Harlem River Blues” on Letterman last week.
  • If you liked Personal File, the acoustic collection of Johnny Cash songs from his personal vault that was released a few years ago, you’ll be glad to hear that a second collection will be released on Feb. 22, From Memphis To Hollywood: Bootleg Vol. 2. American Songwriter has all the details.
  • All about earworms.
  • The New York Times‘ Jon Caramanica attended a recent Hot Club of Cowtown show:

    Several songs were drawn from the band’s new album, “What Makes Bob Holler” (Proper American), to be released next month and consisting wholly of interpretations of songs by the western swing pioneers Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Recorded in single takes and modestly produced, it’s one of the most consistent Cowtown albums, a showcase for its vibrant and sometimes risky faithfulness to the genre.

  • Folk Alley posted a three-song session with Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore on YouTube: “Saints & Sinners,” “Lonely For a While” and “Losers.”
  • Associated Press’ Steven Wine says the Dale Watson‘s Carryin’ On was one of 2010’s overlooked albums:

    “Carryin’ On” includes drinking songs, a cheating song and a song about a country song, with Dale Watson addressing these well-worn subjects in a familiar Merle Haggard croon. Yet there’s nothing stale about this retro set; the material’s so strong and so expertly delivered that the songs satisfy like a first sip at the neighborhood tavern.

  • Pam Tillis is headed back to the studio:

    “The older I get, the more mature I get, the more I appreciate my heritage and roots. Gosh, I wish more people would go back and listen to old country music. Young kids should go on YouTube and listen to the classic old-school guys; they would be surprised how cool the music was. It wasn’t all done with bells and whistles and Auto-Tune; it was real and heartfelt. That’s what inspired me,” she says.

  • Country music sales dropped five percent in 2010.
  • This is one of the finer songs from Derek Hoke‘s standout debut:

  1. Confessor
    January 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

    The mention of the name “18 South” immediately brought to my mind the country music “boy band” of the late ’90s and ’00s, South 65. One of their singles, “No Easy Goodbye”, with a video that saw airplay on CMT, had lyrics so horrid that even I, with my relatively unrefined tastes, could never watch the whole thing.

    A sample, the first rhyming couplet of the chorus:

    This is gonna hurt, this is gonna ache
    This is really gonna cause your heart to break.

  2. Drew
    January 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I haven’t heard “Carryin’ On” in its entirety, but call me crazy.. I was underwhelmed by it.

  3. stormy
    January 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Country music sales dropped five percent in 2010.

    Yep, that whole stradegy of country fans turning off the radio/not buying music when they don’t like it is really paying off.

  4. Leeann Ward
    January 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I’m excited for an album from 18 South. I really like what I’ve heard from them so far. Excited about a new Pam Tillis album too. Ditto to Gurf Morlix.

  5. Noeller
    January 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    the more I read about Easton Corbin, the more I like that kid. I think he and I come from the same place, musically speaking.

    Also, thank goodness for Pam Tillis.

  6. Jon
    January 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    If you actually read Craig’s 18 South piece, you’ll find that they’ve already released a debut album – specifically, a very nice EP. Great band.

    It was Alan Jackson who made “It Must Be Love” famous?! Sheesh.

  7. Jon
    January 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Oh, and by the way, technically speaking, the Grascals CD was released yesterday; when you do a retailer exclusive like that, there’s no particular reason to stick to the tyranny of Tuesday.

  8. Stephen H.
    January 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    To be fair, what Midwestern concert reviewer, or for that matter modern-day mainstream country fan, would have heard of either Don Williams or Bob McDill?

  9. Rick
    January 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    “18 South” was on Music City Roots recently and they cover a broad spectrum of musical styles in their music. I guess its easy to get carried away with the whole “eclectic approach” philosophy, and especially when you are rebelling against Music Row restrictions. I really like the previous music of Jon Randall and his wife Jessi Alexander, but the band name doesn’t do a whole lot for me. Oh well…

    Hey, can UMG send me some of those Milton Brown, Ernest Tubb, and Webb Pierce tracks to see if they are worthy of the Library of Congress? Hmm…

    John Caramanica describes the new Hot Club of Cowtown album thusly: “Recorded in single takes and modestly produced…”. Umm, I’m not too excited about the use of the term “modest”. I’ve listened to sample tracks and the sound presentation was a bit too laid back, although thankfully not as lifeless as the Secret Sisters album. Hey HCOC, bring back Gurf Morlix as producer! Please!

  10. Jon
    January 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I don’t think it’s unfair to expect a concert reviewer to be more knowledgeable than the average fan. And if a concert reviewer’s familiar enough with Alan Jackson’s work to mention the song, I don’t think it’s unfair to expect him or her to know (or easily see) that his version of “It Must Be Love” appeared on an album of covers and to go the extra distance of looking up who it was that Jackson was covering when he recorded it. Especially when that artist was just inducted into the Hall of Fame this past year. Since the point of the reference was Corbin’s respect for and employment of country music tradition, it would be helped by getting it right.

  11. Chris N.
    January 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Yeah, that’s a pretty basic fact-checking fail.

  12. Jon
    January 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    rebelling against Music Row restrictions.

    Uh, no. Ignoring and rebelling against are two different things. 18 South covers a lot of musical ground because their members cover a lot of musical ground.

  13. Barry Mazor
    January 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    That modern day country fan might have heard of Don Williams for the first time right there in that review if, as is being noted, the reviewer had done a better job.

    Even now, folks,the halfway decent journalist’s job includes telling you what you DON’T know..

  14. Damien
    January 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I can’t wait to hear all the old albums that were collecting dust in the UMG vaults. A little remastering should bring these albums to life.

  15. Stephen H.
    January 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    That was unclearly my point … I meant to reference the laziness of the reviewer and didn’t. Although it is increasingly more common for newspaper reviewers to live off of assumptions and things they think are true than what actually is.

  16. Leeann Ward
    January 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I have those 18 South songs. Very good. Yeah, I noticed that Alan Jackson fail too.

  17. Stormy
    January 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    What Finn said is that “It Must Be Love” was made famous by Alan Jackson, which it was. And if Corbin covered Jackson’s version of the song it would have been inaccurate to say he covered Don Williams’ version.

  18. Stormy
    January 11, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    The Gurf Morlix/Blaze Foley cd is amazing. I’m kind of having the same reaction to the music that my cat is having to her pain meds, but with less writhing on the floor and chasing my tail.

  19. Paul W Dennis
    January 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Sorry Stormy, for once I agree with Jon – “It Must Be Love” was made famous by Don Williams, reaching #1 in 1979 (it also made it to #2 in Canada) – years later AJ took it to #1 but it only reached #4 in Canada, so I guess the original was the bigger hit. It was certainly the better recording.

    A cover of a cover is still a cover of the original version unless the song has undergone a significant transformation as in the case of “Blueberry Hill” which was originally a hit in 1940 for Gene Autry, then Glenn Miller, then dramatically transformed by Louis Armstrong in 1948 so that the Fats Domino recording of 1956 can truly be said to be a cover of the Louis Armstrong recording, but not of the earlier ones

  20. Leeann Ward
    January 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Maybe it was unfortunate wording on his part, but “It Must Be Love” was famous before Jackson’s version though. It was a number one song then too. I’m guessing that if the reviewer knew that it was a Williams cover, he would have found a way to make sure we knew he knew.

  21. Scooter
    January 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Is that jasmine Rae in the pictures in the Ashton Shepherd video? Hilarious if it is.

  22. Leeann Ward
    January 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    The other thing that sort of points to the idea that he didn’t know is that he grouped it with “Where I Come From.”

  23. Jon
    January 12, 2011 at 9:26 am

    And if Corbin covered Jackson’s version of the song it would have been inaccurate to say he covered Don Williams’ version.

    A comment like that could only come from someone who’s never heard at least one of those versions of “It Must Be Love.”

    @LeeAnn Exactly, and that’s the other problem with Finn’s statement (the first being, as Barry notes, the lost opportunity to point readers toward a great record by a Country Music Hall of Famer); it understates Corbin’s musical relationship to a longer, deeper stretch of country music history and overstates his dependence on a shorter, shallower one. Jackson/Jackson/Chesney on the one hand and Haggard on the other implies one kind of relationship; Jackson/Chesney and Williams/Haggard a somewhat different kind.

  24. stormy
    January 12, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Perhaps that was the writers intent.

  25. Jon
    January 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Ever heard of Occam’s Razor, Stormy? It’s also more generous to think that Finn is ignorant than that he is, as you suggest, maliciously dishonest. And I’m a generous kind of guy.

  26. WAYNOE
    January 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Where did my post go?

  27. Steve Harvey
    January 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Scooter, that certainly ain’t Jasmine Rae.

  28. Scooter
    January 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    OK, Agreed that ain’t Jasmine.

  29. anonymous..
    January 13, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Country sales are down by about 3 million.. I figure it’s b/c Taylor released Fearless in late 2008 and it sold well thru-out 2009, whereas she released this new album in Oct of 2010. It’s Taylor’s fault.. lol

  30. Cutting the Treacle
    January 13, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Timothy Finn: “Two were songs made famous by Alan Jackson: “It Must Be Love” and “Where I Come From.” One was Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues.” Another was Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Happen Twice.” Except for the Haggard tune, if you didn’t know they already belonged to others, you might think they were all Corbin’s songs.”

    Me: Finn is right. “It Must Be Love” was, in fact, made famous by Alan Jackson. To be fair, it was made famous before by Don Williams. But for a host of country music fans who weren’t listening to country in the late 70’s, “It Must Be Love” is an Alan Jackson song – not a Don Williams song.

  31. Jon
    January 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

    It’s like saying “a song made famous by B. J. Thomas, ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.'” Literally true, substantively wrong. Especially since – and it’s depressing that I should have to point this out again – Jackson cut it on an album of covers intended, publicized and otherwise marketed as a tribute to the artists whose records he was re-making and the profound influence they had on his musical sensibilities. So ignoring the fact that it was Williams who first made it famous does a disservice to everyone – Williams, readers and Jackson.

  32. stormy
    January 13, 2011 at 8:40 am

    But if someone were covering the Thomas version, would you say they were covering the song made famous by Hank Williams? That would not be accurate either. And how do you know it wasn’t the author’s intent to show that Corbin’s roots stretch back to Jackson, but not all the way back to Williams?

  33. Leeann Ward
    January 13, 2011 at 9:14 am

    If that was his intent, he didn’t do a good job of making that clear, especially since he mentions Merle Haggard who goes back even before Don Williams.

    Also, there’s nothing particularly different in the styles of the Williams and Jackson versions of the song, so why not refer to Williams or mention both rather than only mention the latter, unless the reviewer didn’t know that there was an earlier version. In the end, it was just a sloppy oversight, but it’s funny that it’s been defended as something else.

  34. numberonecountryfan
    January 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

    For Cutting The Treacle: The first #1 in country music history is Pistol Packin’ Mama by Bing Crosby and the Andrwes Sisters. If I were to cut that song tomorrow and released it the next day, does that make it MY song because I recorded it? When you are mentioning an artist (like Easton Corbin) doing a bunch of cover songs, you have to give credit to the artist who FIRST made it a hit. In the case of It Must Be Love, for those of us who know the music, IS a Don Williams song (#1 in 1979). Just because Alan Jackson remade it in 2000 (#1), does not make it a Jackson tune. Of course, people will remember Jackson singing it because it is a much more recent event, but to take away credit from Williams is a disservice. Whether or not Corbin was aware of the Williams version does not excuse Timothy Finn for not doing his homework. I was NOT listening to country music in 1944 (when Pistol Packin’ Mama was out) because I was not born yet. But, in the example I used, I would want Crosby and the Andrews Sisters to get full credit. If it weren’t for them, would I be covering the song? No! If it weren’t for Williams, would Jackson cover the song? Same thing!

  35. Barry Mazor
    January 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Hey Number One. I’d like to see Al Dexter get credit for “Pistol Packin’ Mama'”. He wrote it, and had the honky tonk hit with it, on regional charts (they had regional charts!) and that’s where the Crosby/Andrews Sisters version–one of dozens and dozens of pop versions we might actually call covers, came from. I’m not sure about that “First country #1″ designation; it may have more to do with the beginning of whatever chart you’re referring to. But it’s fun that it is in fact a pop record cover of a Texas honky tonk song.

    (And one at least inspired by Jimmie Rodgers’ “Pistol Packin’ Papa’ years before, for that matter!)

    History doesn’t “begin” where I happen to start remembering folks, or where you do. And, fair enough, you might not care about it, or you might (your business), but one of the distinctions of country from general pop, one of the reasons it exists and has kept existing, is exactly that it knows what came before and does turns on that. It won’t do fans of country of any style and time any harm to actually know the real stories.

    And it doesn’t take a journalist more than one well-constructed sentence to say things like “a new version of Hank’s “I’m So Lonesome: that nods nicely towards the B.J. Thomas pop hit.”

  36. stormy
    January 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Leeann: He also mentioned that the Haggard tune was the only one Corbin sounded out of place on.

  37. Leeann Ward
    January 13, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Stormy,
    I hardly know what you’re arguing anymore, but I know when to quit a debate. I’m not really sure what Corbin sounding disconnected from the Haggard song has anything to do with not mentioning Don Williams as the original singer of “It Must Be Love”, but it’s possible that it’s only because my brain feels like it’ll blow up if I try to follow your logic anymore on this one. Jon, Barry and Chris have outlined why it would have been easy and responsible to mention the original singer of a covered song that makes complete sense. To me, there’s no good reason beyond lack of knowledge or sloppy writing that Finn wouldn’t have done so, but maybe he’s more brilliant than we’re giving credit for.

  38. Cutting the Treacle
    January 13, 2011 at 10:40 am

    NUMBERONECOUNTRYFAN: “For Cutting The Treacle: The first #1 in country music history is Pistol Packin’ Mama by Bing Crosby and the Andrwes Sisters. If I were to cut that song tomorrow and released it the next day, does that make it MY song because I recorded it? When you are mentioning an artist (like Easton Corbin) doing a bunch of cover songs, you have to give credit to the artist who FIRST made it a hit. In the case of It Must Be Love, for those of us who know the music, IS a Don Williams song (#1 in 1979). Just because Alan Jackson remade it in 2000 (#1), does not make it a Jackson tune. Of course, people will remember Jackson singing it because it is a much more recent event, but to take away credit from Williams is a disservice. Whether or not Corbin was aware of the Williams version does not excuse Timothy Finn for not doing his homework. I was NOT listening to country music in 1944 (when Pistol Packin’ Mama was out) because I was not born yet. But, in the example I used, I would want Crosby and the Andrews Sisters to get full credit. If it weren’t for them, would I be covering the song? No! If it weren’t for Williams, would Jackson cover the song? Same thing!”

    Me: o.k.

  39. stormy
    January 13, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Its not complicated. If he is linking Easton to Jackson and saying that is as deep as Eason’s roots go, it would make sense that Easton sounds out of place on an older, Haggard song.

    I am arguing that the reporter knew what he was saying and said what he meant. Jon is arguing that the reporter is stupider than Jon.

  40. Cutting the Treacle
    January 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Jon: “It’s like saying “a song made famous by B. J. Thomas, ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.’” Literally true, substantively wrong.”

    Me: For many people, “It Must Be Love” is an Alan Jackson song. Don got their first, but most country fans probably don’t associate “It Must Be Love” indelibly with Don Williams like they might associate “I’m So Lonesome . . .” with Hank. Some songs belong to an artist. Others do not. And expecting a concert reviewer to disclose a chain of title for every song is stupid. It’s just a song – not a piece of real property.

  41. numberonecountryfan
    January 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

    For Barry Mazor: I looked it up and Al Dexter had the second #1 in country music with Pistol Packin’ Mama. So full credit goes to all who recorded that song in 1944.

  42. Barry Mazor
    January 13, 2011 at 11:12 am

    You seem to be referring to the earliest Billboard country chart, eh #1? (It wasn’t the only chart–but that was 1944.

    What you’re seeing there is a matter of timing. Dexter recorded his song for Columbia Records in 1942, and the record was a smash, long-lasting hit. So it’s still selling like mad–one of country’s biggest war-time hits– when the Billboard chart begins in 1944, and the Crosby/Andrews Sisters cover is new right then, and doing great too. There was also a Frank Sinatra version!

    But then. Bing had a smash with San Antonio Rose, too. But we don’t call that a “Bing Crosby song.” Bob Wills fans would hurt ya.

  43. Jon
    January 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    @LeeAnn. In the end, it was just a sloppy oversight, but it’s funny that it’s been defended as something else.

    Exactly.

  44. stormy
    January 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Why are you ASSuming sloppy rather than precise writing?

  45. Jon
    January 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Occam’s Razor, Stormy. Besides, what you call “precise” is all stuff you made up; all Finn said was that “It Must Be Love” was made famous by Alan Jackson, most likely because he didn’t know enough to realize the song’s got a bigger history and/or didn’t care enough to check it out. Much as you didn’t know enough to realize how funny it would be to assert a meaningful distinction between doing Jackson’s version or Williams’, or care enough to listen first before making the assertion. Or enough to look up Occam’s Razor. Sometimes people don’t know or don’t care about stuff they ought to..

  46. WAYNOE
    January 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Goes to show you that journalists do not have to know what they are writing about to write about it. Kind of sounds like, nah…

  47. Barry Mazor
    January 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    What journalists need to know is fairly proportional to what their employers demand they know before they use them.

    Much like construction companies. Hospitals. Brothels. And Kazoo orchestras.

  48. Jon
    January 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Let me guess, Waynoe: sounds like you?

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